• Job Interview ... To tell, or not to tell?

    Asked by GypsyJule on Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    Job Interview ... To tell, or not to tell?

    I'm 5 months out of treatment and have a job interview on Friday. I know that I don't need to tell a potential employer about being a cancer survivor, but I wonder if I should. I still go to my oncologist in another area every 3 months, so need those days off, not to mention time for scans, etc.

    Have anyone else faced this issue, and how did you handle it? Thank you!

    16 Answers from the Community

    16 answers
    • Lasander's Avatar
      Lasander

      I would simply say just that. That with the help of your doctors, you are a cancer surviver who thrives. Put a positive spin on it. Let them see the determination and dedication that you have. Determination and dedication when things get tuff.... Sounds like someone I would want working for me!!
      Good luck!

      over 3 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar
      leepenn

      I don't know - I think I disagree with Lasander because I'd be worried that they might pass you by due to your diagnosis. If they offer you the job, then you could ask about how one handles regular doctor appointments and time off required to do that - with or without disclosing the reason why you see the docs quarterly... At the job offer stage, that would simply give the impression that you're planning ahead and making sure that you know work-policy - know what I mean?

      Depending upon what kind of job this is, the question at the interview might also lead to the perception that you're not too serious about the job itself and more interested in getting time off. But, that is very field dependent....

      So, I guess my advice - in the context of my field, which is science - would be to go to the job interview and get interviewed for your expertise / experience related to the job... and save the other stuff for the job offer stage.

      GOOD LUCK!!!!!! I hope you get an offer!

      over 3 years ago
    • Lasander's Avatar
      Lasander

      So there you have it, both sides of the coin. Also something to take in consideration is the type of company you are applying with. Some company's, usually larger ones are hard fast on there policy regarding time off. X amount of hours worked = X amount of call out hours. It's a tuff place to be, but please let us know as we are all pulling for you!

      over 3 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar
      Clyde

      I'm with Leepenn..........mostly. I see no reason to offer the information without a prompt at this stage. A lot depends on your appearance (which will be very much the focus at this point regardless of your qualifications--first interviews are always about the appearance/impression first and foremost, especially if you are going to be dealing with the public (sales for example)). But keep an ear to the ground for signals, vaguely worded questions that hint at a medical condition or you needing time off (might be routine, might be specific to you), and if they do, be prepared to tell the truth (they can't come right out and ask you about a medical condition unless it would prevent you from doing the job (can't take a stock position if you can't lift boxes)). Be ready to say that you have been treated for cancer, that you have beaten it, have no problems doing the job (as long as that is the truth) but have routine (this is the most important word) checkups on a regular basis. Offer to make the time up for any time you need off to cover these. Do it in an offbeat, matter of fact manner and try to dismiss it a little if possible as if it really doesn't impact your life. If, once the subject is on the table, they ask more questions (I would because at this point, it could be a problem or might not be but I need to know) DO NOT dwell on how hard it was or let yourself get sad and droopy, even if it was the hardest thing you ever did. You can tell them it was difficult, but its over now. You have moved on and life is rosy. They want to hire happy people, not people who will suck the air out of the room with their stories of woe. If, recalling another recent post, they start to tell dead cancer people stories, simply smile and say: " Well, that's not me." and then ask a question about the job to steer the conversation another direction. Do not fall into the trap of talking too much about your cancer or let the interview become a discussion of cancer and treatments. If they are that interested, you can talk about it after you are hired, but this is not the time or place. Don't be afraid to say: "I'ld rather not talk about that. We can discuss it later if you wish." Cancer cannot appear to be the center focus of your life at a job interview. You have to leave the impression that your cancer is a thing of the past or at least on the furthest back burner. Practice some answers in front of a mirror so you have an idea of what you look like or with a friend before you go in. This is common at the top layers of business and for employment trainers.

      If they suspect you are hiding something, you won't get the job whether they know the truth or not. A big lie will be much harder to keep up and could get you fired at a later date so be prepared to be honest. If it costs you the job, it was going to cost you the job anyway at some point. Being honest will be respected in any regard.

      I was HR in the hospitality industry for several years. I can't remember how many people I didn't hire because I felt they weren't being entirely honest with me. A couple of them (hospitality is a small world) I discovered later had reasons that would not have kept them from the job but they didn't offer these up so I was left in the dark and, I could not hire someone I felt had a dark secret (My first thoughts were drug issues, a criminal background and then a serious medical condition that would keep them from working--when I was an employee, we dealt with these more than a few times and its a morale buster for the rest of the staff.).

      If you are going to ask for special treatment---and asking for a day (or days) off on a regular basis is special treatment, even at three month intervals---you need to be prepared for the consequences and prepared to make this up to your employer. Almost all companies have a grace period where once hired, they can let you go without penalty. Asking for time off that early in a new job is a red flag. Being honest up front, when you need to be and not before, is the best plan. Others will tell you about the law but its on paper, not reality. Unless the potential employer tells you specifically that you are not being hired because of your cancer, and you can prove they said it, you don't have a lot of recourse.

      I'm not trying to be discouraging. I know lots of people who are survivors who have found fulfilling jobs after treatment and many more who were able to keep their jobs during and after. But its not universal. I hired many who had medical conditions, past drug issues and even an ex-con, but they were all up front and honest with me at the get go. I respected that and never had an issue as they appreciated the chance. Good luck.

      over 3 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/fs-ada.html Here is a piece on Americans With Disabilitys act. From a similar question posted a few weeks ago. It's always a popular topic.

      From a small business persons point of view, (I have been in business for 32 years) I don't care what a person's health issues are, as long as they can to the job. But I will honestly say, I couldn't hire someone in my condition to do the job I used to do 10 years ago. They wouldn't physically be able to do it. So it depends on what type of job you are applying for, and can you do the job? Don't apply if you can't. I again, don't care what is what with anyone, as long as they are good help and can get things done. I will actually give someone who has faced adversity of different types and made it, than someone who hasn't.

      over 3 years ago
    • KimG's Avatar
      KimG

      Hi Julie, long time glad to be writing to you. I don't think you have to tell them anything about your medical history or what's going on now as long as you can work around it do the job, which I have every confidence you can. You are very inspiring. I too am looking for a new job and just had a interview yesterday but gosh it just didn't come up! lol I would say only if you have to be on a short leave of absence. Sometimes I'll mention it to someone I feel closer to just to get it off my chest(no pun intended) in case you're alittle emotional or you need someone to talk to. Hope it helps with a little humor added- kimg

      over 3 years ago
    • GypsyJule's Avatar
      GypsyJule

      Thank you all. The funny thing is that in my current job I teach job seeking skills for a living. The job I'm interviewing for is a dream job for me. Not only am I qualified for the job, but I love the type of work, and I'm sure my history with cancer won't effect my ability to do the work. I guess I'll play it by ear. As far as appearance goes, as @lasanders mentioned, I think most people think I just have a trendy haircut at this point, so I don't believe they would question my health based on that.

      I appreciate all the input! Thank you!

      over 3 years ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar
      BuckeyeShelby

      Good luck w/the interview. I really can't offer any advice that hasn't already been given. I'll think good thoughts for you and hope you get that job of your dreams!

      over 3 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar
      SueRae1 (Best Answer!)

      I would not mention it at my first interview, should they be interested and set you up with additional interviews or an offer, I would mention it at that time that I will be needing a day off every 3 months for following a chronic medical condition (or that you are cancer free and hope to stay so). 26 years ago I was offered a new job in August, My wedding was planed for Oct 18. I let them know I would need a 8 days off, and that I understood I would not be payed since I was a new hire.

      People don't like to be surprised by request for days off from a new hire. But as I said I would wait till I had a job offer in hand before I mention it.

      over 3 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar
      gwendolyn

      I strongly agree with leepenn and SueRae1 who advised you should wait until you receive a job offer before you ask about time off for doctor appointments. Even then, I wouldn't use the C-word but I understand some people may feel differently about that.

      Interviews are not for talking about what you need/want. They are for talking about what you can offer the potential employer. I am totally sympathetic to the fact that this is a concern in your mind but set it aside during the interview process and put your best foot forward!

      over 3 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar
      CAS1

      Did you see the posting I just made a few days ago? I did that to help everyone answer this question.

      over 3 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar
      CAS1

      As a former Corporate Executive, and owner and founder of my own executive search company. I can assure you companies and especially companies today are not concerned with an individual and their issues. If you will work for a Mom and Pop organization that is a different story. Beyond that..Keep your private life to yourself in and out of a company.

      You are there to provide value and not find "new friends". This is a very hard lesson for women to learn.

      over 3 years ago
    • GypsyJule's Avatar
      GypsyJule

      @CAS1, Thank you, I had not seen your post from two days ago, and I appreciate you posting the article. My question was not based on me wanting to make "new friends" in a new work environment, It was more a reflection of my own insecurities about how the new normal of being a cancer survivor makes me think about things I've never had to think about before.

      over 3 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar
      Clyde

      GypsyJule, please let us know how this goes for you. With your background, you can probably offer some excellent advice and viewpoint as this question comes up often. It speaks to concerns of cancer survivors far beyond just getting a job. Good luck.

      over 3 years ago
    • KimG's Avatar
      KimG

      Hope you get that job of your dreams. You deserve it and are qualified to do the job. I will be thinking of you and praying for you. You'll get it!!! Keep us all posted as I'm sure every one of us is pulling for you-kimg

      over 3 years ago
    • Angelsmom's Avatar
      Angelsmom

      If you will be covered by health insurance through your new job they will find out anyways, plus a lot of health insurances won't accept/ cover, a cancer survivor. We are to much of a "risk". Good luck

      over 3 years ago

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